Posts Tagged Sara Ochs

Let’s do the Time Warp Again!

Let's do the Time Warp Again!

PARK SQUARE DOES THE TIME WARP WITH ROCKY HORROR MUSICAL
Naughty Fun in the Era of Trans Rights and #MeToo

Media Contact – Connie Shaver
shaver@parksquaretheatre.org 

Saint Paul, Minn., August 5, 2019 – Park Square Theatre opens its Proscenium Stage Season with the Tony Award-nominated campy rock musical THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW by Richard O’Brien (Sept 27 – Nov 2, 2019), directed by Ilana Ransom Toeplitz. “I really want to rock the house and upend the way that people think of Park Square,” says Flordelino Lagundino, Park Square’s Artistic Director. “This is a great show to bring the generations together – those that stood in line as teenagers to see the original movie in 1975 (coincidentally the year Park Square opened), and young people experiencing it for their first time. I want the walls to shake and for people to get up, dance, laugh and have a good time!”

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW will be Toeplitz’s Park Square and Twin Cities directing debut. She has served as associate director for the national tours of DIRTY DANCING: THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE and A CHRISTMAS STORY: THE MUSICAL!, as well as being a Drama League Director’s Project Alum (2017 Leo Shull New Musicals Directing Fellow). “The whole night should feel like a party that’s been locked up in a time machine for years, begging to come out and play,” says Toeplitz. “It all culminates in Frank-N-Furter’s epic floor show, which has all the glitz of a David Bowie concert combined with all of the glam of an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Audience participation is encouraged.”

In the campy, audaciously sexy story, naïve sweethearts Brad and Janet get a flat tire during a storm and seek shelter at the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a “sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania.” As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters. Through elaborate dances and rock songs, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest scientific creation: a muscular man named “Rocky.”

What started as a stage musical in 1973 became a cult classic film starring Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Meat Loaf in 1975. Most recently, Fox remade the classic for the small screen starring black transgender activist Laverne Cox in the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (played by Tim Curry in the original).

Photo of an androgynous actor in black corset, gloves, and fishnet tights.

Gracie Anderson as Frank. Photo by Richard Fleischman.

The cast includes local favorites Gracie Anderson (Dr. Frank-N-Furter), Marcela Michelle (Narrator), Natalie Shaw (Janet), Ben Lohrberg (Brad), Randy Schmeling* (Riff Raff), Celena Vera Morgan (Columbia), Hope Nordquist (Magenta), Rush Benson* (Rocky), Cameron Reeves (Eddie), and Sara Ochs (Dr. Scott).

The Production team includes: Ashawnti Sakina Ford (Assistant Director Fellow), Andrew Fleser (Music Director), An-Lin Dauber (Set Designer), Peter Morrow (Sound Designer), Andrew Griffin (Light Designer), Foster Johns (Vocal Coach), Mary Capers (Assistant Wigs Design Fellow). *Member, Actors Equity Association

Ticket prices: Previews: $25-$37. Regular Run: $25-$55. Discounts are available for seniors, military personnel, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square Ticket Office, 20 W. Seventh Place, or by phone: 651.291.7005, (12 noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday), or online at parksquaretheatre.org.   #PSTRocky

SEASON TICKETS are on sale now.  Subscription package prices begin at $66.

CALENDAR INFORMATION

Previews: Sep 27 – Oct 3, 2019
Opening Night: Oct 4, 2019
Regular Run: Oct 4 – Nov 2, 2019

Tickets: Previews: $20-$37; Regular Run: $25-$55
The Ticket Office is open from noon to 5:00 pm Tuesday through Friday. Call 651.291.7005.

PHOTOS by Richard Fleischman parksquaretheatre.org/media/photos/

PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. Ticket Office: 651.291.7005. www.parksquaretheatre.org

Going Full Circle and Beyond

The circle is a universal symbol of unity, wholeness, inclusivity and cyclical movement. During both the first rehearsal and opening night of Flower Drum Song at Park Square Theatre, members of Mu Performing Arts reflected on how Mu itself has come full circle on its 25th anniversary. Its once newest core performers, such as Randy Reyes, Sherwin Resurreccion, Katie Bradley and Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, are now the elders as another generation of artists stream through. In fact, when Mu first staged Flower Drum Song about eight years ago, Sherwin had played the young man Ta and Randy his father, Wang. And just four years ago, Randy Reyes inherited the Artistic Director role from co-founder Rick Shiomi, who has since co-found a new company called Full Circle Theater.

First rehearsal of Flower Drum Song (Photo by T. T. Cheng)

First rehearsal of Flower Drum Song
(Photo by T. T. Cheng)

Recently I asked Rick Shiomi to go back down memory lane to Mu’s beginnings, then return us to where it is now and, in conjunction, where he is now. My first surprise on this journey was that then University of Minnesota graduate student Dong-il Lee, not Rick, had initiated the founding of Theater Mu (the organization’s original name).

“I actually came here from Canada for personal reasons,” Rick admitted, “and I didn’t think it was even possible to do. I only knew one or two Asian Americans acting in the Twin Cities. I thought it would be too monumental a task.” Yet Rick agreed to go along for the ride.

However, Dong-il graduated within a year and moved to the East coast for a teaching position and, later, back to South Korea. Rick suddenly found himself heading Mu as interim, and ultimately permanent, Artistic Director.  But why didn’t he just stop then and go on with his life?

“By now, I saw that my future would be in the Twin Cities,” Rick said. “I had already committed my life to Asian American theater, and there was nothing here. I could certainly have worked with another theater, like Mixed Blood, that would do maybe one Asian American play in five years. I preferred to put in the hard work to develop Mu instead.”

The work was, indeed, hard. Rick compared the first five to ten years to “digging trenches to lay a foundation.” People came and went as Mu gradually built its first major wave of core performers to take it to the next level. In its 2003/4 season, Mu reached a new high with an all-Asian American casting of the Sondheim musical Pacific Overtures at Park Square Theatre, followed in 2005/6 with its landmark production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Those were exciting times for Mu.

In Rick’s opinion, “Mu has completed one cycle and is now starting on another, almost like a spiral. There is a certain circular sensation, especially for the actors who have grown up and now play the elders, but it’s a different place and time and their roles have changed.”

Rick, too, has let go of a cycle to begin a new one. He and four other longtime stalwarts of the Twin Cities theater community–Martha B. Johnson, James A. Williams, Lara Trujillo and Stephanie Lein Walseth–founded Full Circle Theater in 2013. By doing so, they are going full circle in the sense of experiencing and implementing some of the same growth challenges and strategies faced by any startup, such as Mu in its younger days. However, this time around, they have all been “around the block” with collective knowledge to their advantage as well as a focus beyond Asian American theater. Listed as one of Full Circle’s core values is theater that “is multiracial and multicultural in its representation of life.”

Full Circle’s upcoming production, 365 Days/365 Plays by Suzan-Lori Parks: A 2017 Remix, will run at the Penumbra Theatre from May 26 to June 11. It will feature 46 of a collection of 365 plays written by Parks in 2002 (one play per day). In its 2007 premiere, 365 Days/365 Plays was lauded as “a national phenomenon….crossing ethnic, racial and economic boundaries.” Flower Drum Song patrons can take advantage of Full Circle’s special offer of $10 tickets by inputting the code FDS at brownpapertickets.com.

With regard to Flower Drum Song, Rick has strong memories of the powerful scene, in Mu’s earlier staging at the Ordway, between Ta and Linda Low–then played by Sherwin Resurreccion and Laurine Price, respectively–when she leaves to make it big in Hollywood. He also recalls the emotional father-son reconciliation dance between Randy and Sherwin as Wang and Ta. Another high point came when Sara Ochs, as Mei-Li, so movingly sang “Love, Look Away.”

“What were you feeling and thinking,” I asked, “as you watched Flower Drum Song to commemorate Mu’s 25th anniversary?”

“What a great evolution/revolution all of us have created!” Rick replied. “I felt great pride in the work of our veterans Sherwin and Katie, leading the cast, and Randy leading the company. And excited by the new talent coming!”

 

Martha B. Johnson, Rick Shiomi, David Henry Hwang and Stephanie Bertumen at opening night for Flower Drum Song (Photo by Connie Shaver)

Martha B. Johnson, Rick Shiomi, David Henry Hwang and Stephanie Bertumen at opening night of Flower Drum Song
(Photo by Connie Shaver)

 

Flower Drum Song – Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage until February 19